While working installing an 8ft pole in the ground for a satellite dish installation, I was using a tool which was NOT listed or allowed on a company approved tool list. That tool is a pole driver.
I was driving in the pole while wearing all required safety equipment, finger gloves, hard hat, knee pads, and sun glass safety glasses. While driving the pole in, I pulled off on the upswing and missed the pipe on the downswing. I missed the handle I was holding and struck my finger over top of the pole.
The force cut and broke my finger off to the point it was barely hanging on. I contacted the customer for help. He cut the glove off my injured hand and called an ambulance. He was unable to drive himself, and wouldn’t allow me due to the chance of shock and passing out.
I arrived at the Hospital approx 1/2 hour after the accident happened. I was tested and x-rayed and surgery was ordered on my finger. The doctor mentioned he would try to save the finger but the bone damage looked severe from the x-rays. Following the surgery, the Dr explained he did take the finger at the first knuckle. I am a right handed person. I do most everything with my right hand, from writing my name to working with hand tools at work.
I have had one meeting with the Dr 5 days after the surgery and amputation of my middle finger. At my next appointment he is to look at the percentage of disability and loss of use. Workman’s Comp has taken care of my prescriptions and I haven’t received any bills, they also contacted the Dr and gave case numbers and such.
My questions are these….
1). The State of North Carolina is a No Fault State, but would the company be liable since I was using a tool not authorized through the company? Could that also play into the final amount of compensation?
2) Do I also have the right to request the medical claim remain open for 2-years or statute of limitations “in case” I have further trouble nerve-wise or disability use of hand is greater than expected? If I do get medical to be left open 2-years, would the compensation be withheld for those two years in waiting?
Disclaimer: Our response is not formal legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship. It is generic legal information based on the very limited information provided. Do not rely upon the information in our response, or anywhere else on this site, when deciding the proper course of a legal matter. Always get a personalized case review from a local attorney.
Answer 1: You are fortunate workers compensation has agreed to accept your claim. You might have been excluded for varying from company policy while using an unauthorized tool. With that said, no-fault insurance doesn’t apply to your case. Workers compensation insurance is all you are entitled to. That’s why no-fault insurance exists.
With workers comp insurance, an injured worker doesn’t have to prove negligence. All the worker has to do is show the injury occurred while he or she was on the job. Workers comp will cover your medical bills, out of pocket expenses for medications, costs of transportation to and from treatment, etc., and your lost wages. You also may have a right to a disability payment. Pain and suffering is generally not covered under workers compensation insurance.
Answer 2: While it won’t hurt to confirm with the claims adjuster that your injury and required treatment will be covered well past the two (2) years you ask about, you can be confident all future treatment directly related to your injury should be covered.
If though, you enter into an agreement with workers compensation to fully settle your claim and accept a disability award, you may be precluded from future compensation for medical treatment. With that said, you still have the right to negotiate your settlement to include future payment of medical bills, even if you accept a permanent disability award. It will be difficult but not impossible.
Finally, in the remote chance the tool you were using failed, and such failure was the cause of your injury, you may have a product liability claim against the manufacturer.
The above is general information. Laws change frequently, and across jurisdictions. You should get a personalized case evaluation from a licensed attorney. Find a local attorney to give you a free case review here , or call (888) 647-2490.
Best of luck,
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